On the origin of the Ganges
1-3. The Devarsi Nârada said :– O Thou, the foremost of the knowers of the Vedas! I have heard the excellent narration of Earth. Now I want to hear the anecdote of Gangâ. I heard, ere long, that Gangâ, of the nature of Visnu and appearing from the feet of Visnu, the Îs’varî of the Devas, appeared, due to the curse of Bhâratî, on Bhârata; why has she come to Bhârata; in which Yuga and asked by whom did she come to Bhârata? O Lord! Now describe to me this auspicious anecdote capable to destroy sins and yield religious merits.
4-38. Nârâyana said :– O Child! In ancient days there was born a prosperous Emperor King of Kings, in the Solar dynasty. He had two beautiful wives; one was named Vaidarbhî, and the other was named S’aivyâ. S’aivyâ delivered a very lovely son; his name was Asamanjâ. On the other hand, the queen Vaidarbhî desirous of getting a son, worshipped S’ankara, the Lord of Bhûtas who became pleased and granted her request; and Vaidarbhî became pregnant. After one hundred years of pregnancy she gave birth to one mass of flesh. Seeing this, the queen became very afflicted and taking refuge of Mahâdeva, began to cry loudly and very often. Bhagavân S’ankara, then, appeared there in a Brâhmin form and cut that mass of flesh into thousand pieces. Those thousand pieces turned out into thousand very powerful sons. Their bodies looked more brillant than the mid-day sun. But they were all burnt to ashes by the curse of Kapila Muni. And the King began to lament bitterly and he entered into the forest. Asamajâ practised tapasyâ to bring the Gangâ for one lakh years when he quitted his body in course of time. His son Ams’umân practised tapasyâ for one lakh years to bring Gangâ unto Bhârata and he, too, died. Then the son of Amsumân, the intelligent Bhagîratha, a great devotee of Visnu, free of old age and death and the store of many qualifications, practised tapasyâ for one lakh years to bring Gangâ on earth. At last he saw S’rî Krisna brilliant like ten millions of summer suns. He had two hands; there was a flute in his hand; be was full of youth in the dress of a cow-herd. A sight of His Gopâla Sundarî form, wearing a Sakhî’s dress, makes one think that He is ever ready to show grace on His devotees. He is Para Brahmâ, whose Substance is Will; be has no deficiencies. Brahmâ, Visnu and Mahes’vara and the other Devas and Munis, etc. all praise Him, who pervades everywhere. He is not concerned with anything; yet He is the Witness of all. He is beyond the three gunas, higher than Prakriti. A sweet smile is always in his face, which makes it the more lovely. There is none equal to him in showing Grace to the Bhaktas. His raiment is purified (uninflammable) by fire and he is decorated with gems, jewels and ornaments. The King Bhagîratha saw that unforeseen appearance, bowed down and began to praise over and over again. His whole body was filled with ecstasy. Then he clearly told what he wanted for the deliverance of his family. Bhagavân S’rî Krisna then, addressed Gangâ and said :– “O Sures’varî! Go quickly and appear in Bhârata, under the curse of Bhâratî. By My command go quickly and purify the sons of Sagara. They will all be purified by the touch of the air in contact with the Ganges and rise up in divine aerial cars, assuming forms like Mine and they will come to My abode. They will there remain always as My attendants and they will not be involved in the sins that they committed in their previous births. O Nârada! It is stated thus in the Vedas, that if the human souls, taking their births in Bhârata, commit sins for millions and millions of births, the sins will be completely destroyed if they touch once the air in contact with and carrying the particles of the Ganges. The sight of the Ganges and the touch of the Ganges water give religious merits ten times more than the touch with the air in contact with the Ganges water. People become freed of their sins then and there especially if they bathe in the Ganges. It is heard in the S’rutis that the bathing in the Ganges, if done according to rules, destroys all the sins, e.g., the murder of a Brâhmin, etc., acquired in one thousand millions of births done consciously or unconsciously. The merits that are acquired by the bathing in the Ganges on a day of religious merit, cannot be described even by the Vedas. Whatever is mentioned in the Âgamas is but a mere trifle. Even Brahmâ, Visnu and Mahes’a cannot describe fully the merits of the bathing in the Ganges. O Brâhmin! Such is the glory of ordinary bathing. Now I will describe the effect of the Ganges bath done with a Sankalpa (resolve); hear. Ten times more the result is obtained when the Ganges bathing is done with a resolve (Sankalpa) than ordinary bath and if one bathes on the day when the sun passes from one sign to another (in the Zodiac), thirty times more religious merits accrue. On the new Moon (Amâvyas) day, the Ganges bath gives the merits as above mentioned; but when the Sun is in his Southern course (Daksinâyana) double the merits are obtained and when the sun is in his Northern course, ten times more religious merits are obtained. The Ganges bathing in the time of Châturmâsya, full Moon day, Aksayâ Navamî or Aksayâ trittîyâ yields merits that cannot be measured. And if on the above Parva (particular periods of the year on which certain ceremonies are commanded) days both bathing, and making over gifts are done, there is no limit to the religious merits acquired; hundred times more than ordinary bath, religious merits are obtained. Great religious merits accrue from the Ganges bath on Manvantarâ tithi, Yugâdyâ, S’uklâ seventh day of the month of Mâgha, Bhîsmâstamî day, As’okâstamî day, and S’rî Râma Navamî day. Again double the merits than those of the above arise from bathing in the Ganges during the Nandâ ceremony. The Gauges bath in the Das’aharâ tenth tithi gives merits equivalent to Yugâdyâ Snânam (bath). And if the bathing be done on Mahânandâ or in Mahâvârunî day, four times more religious merits accrue. Ten million times more religious merits accrue from the Ganges bathing on Mahâ Mahâ Vârunî day than ordinary bath. The Ganges bath in the Solar eclipse yields ten times more religious merits than in the Lunar eclipse. Again the Snânam in Ardhodaya Yoga yields hundred times more religious merits than that of the (solar) eclipse. Thus saying to Gangâ before Bhagîratha, the Lord of the Devas remained silent. The Devî Gangâ with her head bowed down with devotion, said :–
39-42. Gangâ said :– If I am after all, to go to Bhârata as Thou commandest and under the curse given previously by Bhâratî, then tell me how I would be freed of the sins that the sinners will cast on me. How long will I have to remain there? When, O Lord! Shall I be able to return to the Highest place of Visnu? O Thou, the Inner Self of all! O All Knowing! O Lord! Whatever else I desire, Thou knowest them all. So be pleased to instruct me on all these points.
43-69. Bhagavân S’rî Hari said :– O Sures’varî! I know all that you desire; when you will assume the liquid form, the Salt Ocean will be your husband. He is My part and you are of the nature of Laksmî; so the union of the lover with the love stricken in the world will turn out a happy and qualified one. Of all the rivers Sarasvatî and others in Bhârata, that go to mix with the ocean, you will be the best and highly fortunate of them all. From today you will have to remain in Bhârata for a period of five thousand years, under the curse of Bhâratî. You will be able to enjoy daily and always the pleasures with the Ocean. O Devî! As you are a clever lady, so He is also apt and expert. The inhabitants of Bhârata will praise Thee and worship Thee with great devotion by the stotra which Bhagîratha has composed. He will derive the fruit of one horse-sacrifice who will meditate on Thee as per Kânvas’âkhâ and worship, praise and bow down to Thee daily. Even if one utter “Gangâ,” “Gangâ,” though one is one hundred Yojanas away from the Ganges, one will be freed of all sins and go to Visnu-loka. Whatever sins will be cast in Thee by thousand sinners bathing in Thee will be destroyed by the touch of the devotees of Prakriti Devî. Even if thousands and thousands of sinners touch the dead bodies and bath in Thee, all those will be destroyed when the Devî Bhaktas,the worshippers of Bhuvanes’varî and Mâyâ Vîja, will come and touch Thee. O Auspicious One! Thou wilt wash away the sins of the sinners, by Thy stay in Bhârata with other best rivers Sarasvatî and others. That will be at once a sacred place of pilgrimage where Thy glories will be chanted. By the touch of the dust of Thine, the sinner will be at once purified and he will dwell in the Devî-loka (Mani Dvîpa) for as many years as will be the dust there. All Hail to the Devî Bhuvanes’varî! He who will leave his body on Thy lap with full consciousness and remembering My name, will certainly go to My abode and will remain, as My chief attendant for an infinite period. He will see countless Prâkritik Layas (dissolutions of the Universe). Unless a man has collected hordes of religious merits, be cannot die in the Ganges; and if he dies on the Ganges he goes to Vaikuntha as long as the Sun rises in this world. I get many bodies for him where he can enjoy the fruits of his Karma and I then give him My Svârûpya (Form resembling Mine) and make him My attendant. If any ignorant man, void of any Jñânam, quits his body by touching merely Thy water, I give him Sâlokya (place in My region) and make him My attendant. Even if one quits one’s body in a far off place, uttering Thy Name, I give him place in My region for one life time of Brahmâ. And if he remembers Thee with devotion, and quits his mortal coil at another place, I give him Sârûpya (Form resembling Mine) for a period of endless Prâkritik Layas. He instantly gets on an aerial car made of jewels and goes with My attendants to the region of Goloka and gets form like Me. Those that worship daily My Mantra, that pass their day eating the remnant of the food offered to Me, they need not have any distinction whether they die in Tîrath or not. They themselves can easily purify the three worlds. Getting on the excellent and best aerial car built of jewels, they go to the region of Goloka. O Chaste One! Even if the friends of My devotees, be born in animal births, they also will be purified by the devotion shown towards Me and getting on a jewelled aerial car will be able to go to Goloka, so diffcult of access. Wherever the Bhaktas may be, if they simply remember Me with devotion, they will become liberated while living by the power of My Bhakti. Thus saying to Gangâ, Bhagavân S’rî Hari addressed Bhagîratha :– O Child! Now worship Gangâ Devî with devotion and chant hymns to Her. The pure Bhagîrata meditated with devotion as per Kauthuma S’âkhâ and worshipped the Devî and praised Her repeatedly. Then Gangâ and Bhagîratha bowed down to S’rî Krisna and He disappeared at once from their sight.
70. The Devarsi Nârada said :– “O Thou the foremost of the Knowers of the Vedas! How, by what Kuthuma S’âkhâ, the noble King Bhagi-ratha meditated on the Devî Gangâ; what stotra did he recite and what was the method with which he worshipped the Ganges.
71-75. Nârâyana said :– O Nârada! One should first take one’s bath, and putting on a clean washed clothing should perform one’s daily duties. Then one should control oneself and with devotion worship the six Devatâs Ganes’a, Sun, Fire, Visnu, S’iva and S’ivânî. Thus one becomes entitled to worship. First worship is to be given to Ganes’a for the destruction of obstacles; the Sun is to be next worshipped for health; Fire, for purification; Visnu is then worshipped for getting wealth and power; S’iva is worshipped for knowledge and S’ivânî is worshipped for Mukti. When these Devatâs are worshipped, one is entitled to worship the Deity. Otherwise contrary become the effects. Now I am saying what Dhyânam (meditation) did Bhagîratha practise towards the Devî Gangâ .
Here ends the Eleventh Chapter of the Ninth Book on the origin of the Ganges in he Mahâpurânam S’rî Mad Devî Bhâgavatam of 18,000 verses by Maharsi Veda Vyâsa.